Monday, January 31, 2022

A.B. Cop

Name:A.B. Cop
Number:103
Year:1989
Publisher:SEGA
Developer:Aicom
Genre:Racing
Difficulty:3/5
Time: 2 hours

Hey, kid, wanna play as a supercop in a cyberpunk dystopia, ramming down endless scores of baddies in your super hover bike? Not a lot of titles promise that, or even have a premise as interesting as that. Especially arcade titles. AB Cop is one of those games in the racing sub-genre of "drive that guy off the road", which seems to be deader than car combat games past a certain point. Its only distinguished from the better known titles in that genre by way of its setting.

Make no mistake, this is the face of a man who has killed innocents in the line of duty.


There are six missions in the game, played in order. Before each mission you are told why you need to take down (alive) this dangerous criminal. From drug-dealing shoguns, to escaped bio-engineered organisms, to kidnapping clowns, this game has something nuts in every level.

Once the game itself starts, its mostly simple. You have the usual turning and speed settings, that is, left, right, acceleration and brake. You also get a jump button, which can be used a limited amount of times before you need to find jump tokens. (or just die and start again) This isn't where the game gets tricky, because where it gets tricky is with acceleration. If you keep the accelerate button pressed down you are going slower than everyone else. No, how you win the game is by letting go of accelerate button for a second or so, then hold it back down for a turbo boost. Once you get that down, its really simple.

Then you just ram however many bikes off the road the game wants you. Difficulty in this case is achieved by throwing in turns, split lanes and traffic. Its not really difficult once you get down the mechanics of the game. Even with the low time limit to take out these dudes.

Where the game gets difficult is with the bosses. This is where you want to use the jumps, which cause you to deal more damage. The first two aren't bad, but the third is where they start shooting projectiles at you while swinging a sword. You are completely invulnerable to damage, but taking a hit slows you down. Naturally when you're trying to jump its troublesome when you get swatted away like a fly. Or you're trying to build up speed and get hit by a ball. They can deal some pretty mean combos on you at times too.

But even then, its not too hard. Once you figure out the trick to the game, it is by far the easiest arcade title I've played in a while. It feels underwhelming, like there should be more to it. The real prize to the game is the insanity you get stage after stage. This is the only reason why you'd play the game til the end. I don't think I was disappointed in that regard, but if that doesn't appeal to you, then there is nothing worth playing here.

Weapons:
None.

Enemies:
While the bosses had a bit of variation on them, I can't say I cared for that variation. 1/10

Non-Enemies:
Simple non-hostile cars. 1/10

Levels:
I guess there's some thought into where splits in the road are placed and the turns, but as it went on I did not feel it was getting better. 1/10

Player Agency:
The controls are somewhat awkward, undoubtedly because the game wasn't designed for the arrow keys, but some unique arcade cabinet. Turning doesn't feel right, and while there's a rythmn to the turbo function, it doesn't always work properly. 4/10

Interactivity:
Some destructible objects. 1/10

Atmosphere:
Normally, I'd just rate it as a scifi game. Its got a good vision to it. Very much a pleasant feeling game despite the violence. But something about this is just WRONG. Some of this is undoubtedly the cultural barrier, but I don't think all of it is. 5/10

Graphics:
Very nice pixel art. Nice combination of some optimistic futurism and scenic areas. Enemies could have used some more frames in their attack animations though. 6/10

Story:
Something terrible has happened A.B. Cop! You must stop the criminals! Interesting by virtue of sheer insanity. 2/10

Sound/Music:
Kind of generic happy-sounding tunes. The shorter stings between levels and whenever you lose are the best. Sound effects are fairly flat-sounding. 3/10

That's 24.

The game did sort of okay, it was no hit, but people liked it. Understandable, since there's only two tricks to the game before you can 1cc it. I could probably do that if I wanted to.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Pathways into Darkness - As Carnby Would Say...

Who even thought this up?
Next level, We Can See in the Dark...Can You? Ahahahaha, oh, you. At first it seems rather mundane, there's a nightmare within visible range of the start, and I take him out no problem...but then rats start flying across the screen. Each time doing damage. This causes me some confusion until I figure out they attack less if I'm on the move. Tried using a crystal while they were on screen, but that does nothing. Near the exit, opposite the only permanent enemy, is a dead German. I manage to survive the onslaught long enough to talk to him. Turns out the rats are attracted to my flashlight. Joy, even shorter visibility.
Could be something there, could not, I'll never know until its too late
This does succeed in making the game more tense to play, but it succeeds more at being more annoying. Have to check the map more. And make no mistake, the game knows this is annoying, because enemies are spawning constantly and its a maze. This level is actually hard to play, because the sound keeps cutting out and you need to hear things in order to just survive this thing.

I'm going to be seeing a lot of these guys
There's a new enemy here, well, new, but I saw them in the other path. The ooze, eh, he just takes a lot of shots. There are two big issues with this map, the first is that I know there's something here I'm missing, presumably some treasure. The second is I know if I want to get it I'm going to have to waste so much time dealing with enemies. So when I see an opportunity to go down a floor, I take it.
You never know how many of these guys are lurking around now

Next floor down has everything I ever wanted. Another dead German who tells me that the MP-41 isn't far from here and a save point. Of course using the save point goes so wrong. Just so wrong. This enhanced respawning rate is annoying, and since by the time I get down here I don't have any sound, I don't know that a monster is attacking me until after I've saved and then immediately get hit. Its so bad that two enemies respawned in the corridor behind me. Aaaaaaaaaagh! This section is really starting to get on my nerves.
Going through the maze again is annoying, but it allows me to take a different route. One which gives me more ammo. That's a plus at least. Its really hard to go back to melee fighting at this point. Funny how in any other game this would be very annoying in general, but its taken this long to be annoying. So what's on that floor? Its another maze of sorts, this time a series of rooms with 2-4 corridors leading out. Even if the issues on this floor were just limited to that and the enemies constantly respawning, its feeling like the game has suddenly allowed the enemies to do Wolfenstein-levels of being able to shoot around corners.

The doors out close behind you, of course

On the east side of the map is a door that closes behind me. It leads to more of the same, except here there's a closed door. What's behind it? Why, the rest of the expedition, including Muller himself. Why were they here? Muller says they were here to get some Mayan artifacts, but another soldier says its really because they were here to get a vial containing a demon. All four of the soldiers here tell me to not step on the arrow here, but as the door closed behind me I have no choice. The reason why is because there are over twenty enemies behind the door.

The most intense fight of the game
Because they had the MP-41, and I have the crystals and a health potion, I have just enough supplies to survive the encounter on my second attempt. What were they guarding? A cloak and some potions, two blue and one brown. The brown one is poison. And...only back out. What's south on the map? Nothing. There's nothing else here. What does the cloak do? Make enemies go faster. Huh...
Another screen effect, this is starting to lose what little charm it had
So I think to myself, maybe this cloak does something back in the maze. I take the ladder back up and find myself in a different maze, this time with these electrical spheres around. You can't stunlock them without using the MP-41 and they take a lot of damage. They deal it out fast, but they're not very hard-hitting. Okay then, I guess the last floor was somewhat pointless? Enemies are still respawning at an annoying rate. You can be fighting one sphere, and another will respawn behind you, and after taking out that sphere, another one will have spawned where the first one was. After a few tries I get down to another level rather quickly. Its a good thing too, because if there's anything here, I don't have the patience to find it.
Some of these names are of Bungie employees, talk about original

Still, at least on the next floor there's a save point and a dead American. Yes, one of my team. Something tells me they're all dead anyway. He doesn't have any ammo, or a gun for that matter, but what he does have is information. There are three beacons and one of the others is carrying it, and the guy who had the bomb came back this way at some point. Does that mean I have to explore the labyrinth on the last floor? Yes, but not because of that, simply because there isn't anything here but a locked door. I'm glad I conserved all that ammo earlier because I would be screwed otherwise.

A completely fair and reasonable level exit
Better still, the labyrinth, that is, the second maze, seems to be randomly generated, even in the same game, so long as enough attempts have been made. It seems to link to three areas, the path I just took, another path up (no doubt linking back to Power Play) and a path down, which is the one where I can't go anywhere yet. It seems that the only path I can take, at least without going back into the labyrinth, is the one going back up. After dealing with oozes, many nightmares, and lowering ammo supplies, I make it to A Plague of Demons. What's here, you ask? Invisible enemies. Not like shadowy ones that blend into the background, but invisible ones. No matter which way I go, I'm going to have to deal with annoying enemies. Ah...

Can you figure out where the enemy is?
As I go through the level, I run out of ammo. There is nothing on this level, no ammo, not even a spare crystal. Oh...good. That's just what I wanted. This is a long, winding level that coils in on itself, and it has many of these invisible monsters. They move fast too, so they're really fun. It seems like going this way is impossible, at least for now. I decide to check the hintbook that came with the download of the game. There's a cedar box on this floor that duplicates items, or at least ammo. If you went down from the other path you'd have an idea of what to do with this.

It occurs to me that only corpses have blood, and there are no blood puffs upon damage
It takes about a minute to get more ammo, but it is worth it. What is with these FPS/RPG games that force you to spend time waiting around. Shadowcaster, Deux Ex (with aiming) and this crap. This drastically changes the way the game is playing. Anyway, once I find the way up, I also find another of my comrades. It seems the way it was intended for me to travel through this section was by walking down, because this guy had infra-red goggles for seeing the invisible enemies. Joy. Also, his M-16 is broken. What, are they made out of puddy or something? Another empty magazine and a 40mm grenade. Something tells me I as long as I have plenty of ammo for the MP-41 I should be getting more grenades. Just a feeling.

Exciting level design!
And yes, both entrances into Feel the Power are full of enemies. Jees. While the cedar box changes the dynamic of the game, its not really changing what I'm doing. In both the current and previous situations I was attacking a few enemies, then resting/waiting. The only real threat is the timer, and even though I'm now on Monday, I've still got plenty of time and having effectively infinite ammo greatly reduces the amount of time I need to rest. Waiting is better than resting, though that labyrinth will still be annoying.

A fat ghost too

On my way back, I finally get to see one of those enemies. Hahahahahaha. They're just ghosts, huh?

This undersells how many enemies are in this corridor
Now that I don't have any concerns about ammo, let's deal with "Need a Light?" properly. Short controlled bursts with the MP-41 work better than just firing non-stop. Even seems like they deal more damage. One of the doors does open, and inside is a long hallway full of enemies. Now that I don't need to conserve ammo, the game is responding likewise.
Did the anti-smoking lobby pay for this?

There's another door at the end of the hallway, and close by is another corpse of my fellows. He's got the grenade launcher. (I love the sound that places when I get points, its so cool hearing it when I get a weapon) All he remembers is burning and searing and fire. Either something hot killed him, or he shot himself with the grenade launcher. Come to think of it, how did they get down here without the pipes?

Every enemy in this game has managed to hit a perfect balance between childish and creepy
And this guy is here. He shoots fireballs, answering my question. I know what to do, I take the grenade launcher and start firing. And you know what? Its underwhelming. Seriously underwhelming. Its practically a shotgun the way it works. Might as well be shooting rubber rounds at this guy. (there are multiple rounds, but I've been copying the HE) I kill him, but it didn't feel like that. Now, to interrogate the rest of my team. Some of them have already lost it. Greg got separated from the team as the door closed behind them, while they slowly got killed off by the big guy. I wonder if his huge amount of health is supposed cut down from what damage my teammates did to him? I get a grand total of 9 M16 rounds from two magazines from their broken weapons. Otherwise I find another brown potion, one red, one blue, and a ring.
These things look like they should have more legs than they seem to have

Last trek through the labyrinth, at least until I've won, there is a violet crystal in the center of the maze, seems to be electrical themed. On the other side is a...your guess is as good as mine as to the name and these spider-things. Clearly, we're entering the Lovecraftian section of the game. Interestingly, there are small recesses in these walls, akin to the ones you'd find in something more advanced. I wonder if there's a map-making program for this game. It would be very interesting.

Why do they look like Egyptians?
While I admire some unusual and alien scenery, this reskinned zombie shows up. He creates earthquakes. Clearly those screen effects are less impressive than I give them credit for if they're showing up this much.

I wonder if they're just trying to make these guys look as out of place as possible, even though they're human
A little ways in I find a velvet bag which acts like a bag of holding. (I.E., they don't weigh anything) Hasn't really affected anything yet, but I'm at about 50 kg and with no signs of that ammo supply getting lower. What's more interesting are these human fellows who have created a barrier in certain sections of the map. As in move through it, you can't, shoot at it, you can't. Meanwhile enemies can attack through it. This cuts off a good chunk of the floor, but there's a way down, so its all good.

This makes me want a war game that looks cute and treats everything like a minor whoopsie
"Watch Your Step", uh-oh. Landmines, or mystical versions. Oh, and frogs dashing across my screen like the rats. I can deal with it, I know what to do...oh, they're not attracted to the light. In fact, in order to shake them off, you have to walk over a landmine. There are a limited number of frog spawns, and you get rid of them by stepping on the violet pods. That's not really the sort of action I expected I would have to do. It feels like the sort of thing you would see in a mod rather than a commercial game.

There's not a great way for these guys to die, is there?
On the south side of the map is a green crystal. Considering the events at the top of the pyramid, its not surprising that I rarely use the things. The green crystal creates earthquakes, and using them on the dudes who holds the barrier kills them. Back a level up I can clear out the rest of the level. There's another potion, and surprisingly enough, another way down. Is it separate from the rest of the level, or is it just another connector? I think that's a question best answered another time.

This Session: 2 hours 30 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes

Monday, January 24, 2022

The Alien Island 3D

This actually changes color as you view it
Name:The Alien Island 3D
Number:102
Year:1985
Publisher:ASCII
Developer:Nobuhisa Fujinami
Genre:FPS
Difficulty:5/5
Time:1 hour 50 minutes

Like all computer systems, there are aesthetics to the old Japanese computers. The one I've been attributing to the first half of the '80s or thereabouts is that of high dithering, low palette and very little action. But I haven't played anything from the earliest playable machines, that is, the PC-6001 and the earliest, the PC-8001. Though I'm playing this in a PC-88 emulator because it works here.

Looking at this game, I'm heavily reminded of the ZX Spectrum, my least favorite of all the home computers. At the very least this game shares the palette of that machine. Since its entirely in English its pretty much just a forgotten title of that system. Its about as complex as those titles get anyway. The story is, the player is a human going to an island via boat to stop aliens from eating trees. He stops them by shooting them. Any questions? I hope not, because I don't have answers.

The approach
Its fairly simple. The control scheme uses the numpad, 8-4-6-2 move in the expected directions, while 7 and 9 turn. Space fires. Unlike in some games, you don't want to be hammering that down aggressively. Shots continue until they hit something or go off the island. Hitting trees or your boat causes you to lose points, and in the latter case, lose a live. Further compounding the issue, some aliens leave corpses you have to push into the sea, or they'll spawn smaller aliens.

All the deaths are this flat screen, plus your point total
Its very easy to play at first. Too easy. Unless you're rushing in to save the trees its a very casual stroll through an island, even with the corpses. Unless you get turned around destroying the boat is impossible, and there's no penalty beyond score for losing all the trees. I was about to call this game a rip-off before the game told me there was a second island.
Talk about no mercy
On the second island, the game begins placing a treasure on the map somewhere. I think nothing of this, blasting away the aliens as per usual. The game is telling me there's more than one way to kill enemies, which I think counts as an example of in-game tips. Beats the Catacomb series, anyway. While doing this, I, firing too much, destroy the treasure. Oh, well. I continue to kill the aliens. After they're all dead, the game throws this at me. Couldn't bother programming in a death in this situation?
That tree on the right? That's what I would hit if I sidestepped to the right

Okay, time to play this seriously. And I get killed, three times. Seemingly by sheer dumb luck. Wait, is this actually better than it looks? No...it can't be...can it? Its a bit more complex than it seems at first glance, but only a bit. You can get very easily blindsided, but once you figure out where you actually are in relation to everything else, it gets easier. There are tons of little ways to get killed, wait too long and the treasure gets destroyed, walk into your own shot, walk into something you shot that's still smoldering and walk into a pond.

Dead alien in front of me, small alien in the corner, note the radar down there
As long as you get a favorable enough spawning of enemies, exercise a bit of caution in firing too many shots, and go slightly faster through the island than you would plan on, it isn't too hard for the first section of the game. The game starts really cranking up the number of trees too, functioning more as annoyances than things to save. At about scene 7 the game throws in trees that reflect shots and scene 10 the game allows aliens to shoot back. In fact I thought scene 10 was a fairly good ending point, since the game has no saves and only three lives. By 10 it seems we've hit a pretty natural ending point, but no, it keeps going.
Note the screen is going funny because of the warp
Even early on it never felt like it was playing fair with the player. Instead it was stacking the deck against him as much as possible. Without save states I don't see how you could even get this far. The game is vicious, enemies seem to walk in a straight line towards you, and the addition of them shooting at you is another easy way to die. In the heat of battle you're unlikely to see a short message of "the alien has shot the bullet" in-between the game telling you for the 9123rd time that you can kill aliens by ways other than shooting. Hell, the same instant the same instant an alien spawns could very well be the same instant it shoots you. Try blocking that.
Every line on the radar is another enemy
The game instead ends at level 13. Boy, does it make you work for that. Three trees are back down to normal but the game just floods you with enemies. The game pretends to allow you to deal with enemies before they become a problem in the form of alien eggs, and has for a while, but in the past these weren't close enough to the start for me too notice. Since this final level throws a lot of enemies, probably like 50, in a game where space is at a premium. Eventually, I win, and after the customary fireworks sequence, the game calls me crazy for beating it. I suppose so, but what about your next game, Fujinami-san? Oh, wait, there wasn't one.

The primary issue is that despite the cool tech, the gameplay itself feels outdated for 1985. This feels like the kind of game you would play at an arcade and have to spend hundreds of quarters to win. I do not see how you could possibly beat this game legitimately. The game employs so many tricks that give it an unfair advantage that the only way to counter them is to cheat. If you get a bad enough seed on each island you're screwed no matter what. A human simply can't compete.

Weapons:
A simple blaster. 1/10

Enemies:
The big enemies dying and having to wait or toss them into the ocean is more annoying than interesting. 1/10

Non-Enemies:
None.

Levels:
Randomly generated islands. Its very cool that the whole level, even the parts that aren't on-screen, is thought of at once. 1/10

Player Agency:
This game's control scheme seems smooth at first, but once you start getting into serious fights, it reveals itself as being pretty bad. You just can't move with any urgency. You can't move and shoot at the same time and shooting after moving seems delayed. 2/10

Interactivity:
Being able to shoot trees and treasure chests to destroy them counts...I guess. 1/10

Atmosphere:
Weird, but not too pleasant. Feels very horrorish in concept and execution, but sort of that 8-bit horror where its not really scary or even Halloween-ish, even if its trying. 1/10

Graphics:
Very, very simple. The scrolling is very smooth, especially for a system that wasn't very capable of such things. 2/10

Story:
None.

Sound/Music:
Blips and bloops. 1/10

That's 10. Not bad for a game that's a chore to beat legitimately. Its by far the most mundane of the Japanese FPS titles so far, and seems to fit in with the sort of annoying difficulty these games employed.

There are no contemporary reviews of this game, owing to coming out for the PC-8001 series computers in 1985. The system was discontinued in 1983. The only modern mentions of the game are that its an early FPS from Japan, which is about the only positive thing you could say about the game.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Pathways into Darkness - Circles

Its a really bad idea to fight a zombie with a knife
Pathways is shaping up into a dense game. No sooner do I enter the next level, They May Be Slow... than am I face-to-face with another headless. Its a pretty standard situation on this level to wander into a room with three exits, with two headless and one zombie coming in from those exits. I'm starting to see zombies appearing in areas I've previously cleared out, which is a lovely thought for ammo consumption.

The number of phantasms are grossly exaggerated
In the left side of the central passage is another dead German, Hans. He tells me about specters, things that are immune to bullets, grenades and knives. Which is unfortunate for me. He was also the one with the ammo, which he hid in a skull in a room of bones. I actually found that before talking to him, since it seemed suspicious and I searched it.

These guys are really hard to see if they're against the darkness
On the left path, however, there's a secret passageway, next to a spot that causes everything to disappear. This is just a path up, nothing of value here. On the next level is a ghostly enemy, no doubt the spector, called in-game as Phantom, who kills me because I am unable to defend myself. I assume that somewhere on the last level is a weapon or crystal that allows me to damage them.

Enemies march single file a lot in this game

Back to exploring the last level, I finally level up with the P4. What's the benefit? I do more damage, taking out the Zombies in 3 hits rather than 4, or 2 up-close. It may actually just improve accuracy, but its kind of cool since the only improvement Shadowcaster had was to health and mana. Normally I don't care for Deus Ex-style weapon experience, but maybe the usage thing here is making my opinion less sour.
Otherwise the level is mostly a smooth experience. The number of zombies doesn't matter since I have plenty of ammo, bolstered by the ammo Hans and another dead German left me. What's troublesome is that there are three paths up, including the secret one. Clearly, there's something here I've missed. I go back to the second dead German I found, who I didn't think had much of anything to tell me. I realize pretty quickly I should have asked him about people, because they went through a secret wall. A wall I actually went through while dropping items. This has a blue crystal that can freeze enemies. Does it work against the Phantoms?

This is still good visibility
Yes! However, that doesn't make phantoms easy, since they have a hitscan attack. And the freezing attack doesn't last long on them. At least it only takes 2 shots to take them out. What's worse is that the path back is blocked, undoubtedly why there are multiple exits here. I have to rest a couple of times, bringing the time to noon Sunday. At least the blue crystal is allowing me to make short work of most enemies. It makes the gun feel sort of pointless now, except in situations where there are way too many enemies. And its great for clearing out those dark hallways, enemies have had the first strike on me until now.

At any point, an enemy could approach anywhere

Curiously, this level only had one phantom, no doubt a subtle method of getting players to search for secrets. Or maybe it was just the other phantoms were in different sections, I left this map without much of the area explored, partially done because the path forward was just so long. The next floor, Evil Undead Phantoms Must Die, really lays on the number of enemies thickly. The starting area has you completely surrounded. Its a bit troublesome to get past. Then, the unthinkable happens, my blue crystal breaks and right when a phantom is approaching. Clearly, I can't abuse it as much as I have been, it must be carefully used. Oh, I hope I didn't use it too much earlier.

Just imagine an entire mapfull of this
The following level is very nerve-wracking. At first I assumed the levels were designed the same way Wolfenstein's were, that is to say, randomly. But no, there's a very clear progression going on here. The first couple of levels usually had plenty of room to maneuver outside of hallways. Here, the level design is devious. You have endless rows of pillars, except every other line is shifted by one. Which is tricky to deal with enemies at the speed I can sidestep. The game just has a pearl hanging out on the ground sometime in, as if to say, "You survived that, here you deserve this".
I am almost certain at this point that the game is spawning enemies in cleared out areas because of certain triggers, rather than randomly. Two zombies were guarding a ladder up, but I always and I mean always got attacked in the back by some headless. Even if I waited for a while, there they were. I also find here, another secret passage, this time leading to Lock & Load. Hmm, are all these secret passages just ways to speed through the area to get the golden ending, presuming there is one?
Haha, I win...barely

As this level is proving to be a bit much for my abilities at the moment, I take another ladder up. Hopefully at some point I'm going to find some way down. And its worse. The new colors are a nice touch, but the game is starting to expect me to dodge enemies in a long corridor. Its possible, but I feel like the game is trolling me. Not to mention the area out of the ladder is a corridor, and yet a zombie appears behind me. I even make it through these enemies, fight through a small room of shifting pillars, and finish it off by getting killed by a phantom a few squares away from a save point.

Hey, just like me!
Past that group is a set of rooms that loop back in on themselves, with one of the doors being closed. As I enter the first room, the door closes behind me. I get it. It goes smoothly, my skill in the P4 increases to expert, and then, tragedy strikes...the blue crystal shatters. I've been making my saves over one. I had two saves, one at the beginning and one I've been using as a regular save. I was planning on making my next special save before going down, but it seems like that was a poor choice on my part. Back to the start.

I guess the draw distance is intentional rather than a technical limitation
After making my way back, only using the crystal on the phantoms, I deal with the biggest collection of enemies the game has thrown at me so far. Only a pair of alien pipes are my reward, no doubt the instrument Muller was using. Don't quite understand the logic myself, but there doesn't need to be one. With the secret shortcut, I get back to the entrance pretty quickly.
Meet my new best friend
With the alien sound of TOOT TOOT TOOT, the doors open. What's inside? Ghouls. What are ghouls? They're fast, and they deal a ton of damage. They're not as hard to fight as the phantoms, but that's just because I don't need to use a slowly reloading crystal. While the ghouls are defeatable in melee, they don't enter their pain state enough to make this a sure thing. They're very annoying to fight because getting up close is quite difficult, and they usually come in groups with the skeletons, who can't be stun-locked. There are two paths down, but one has another new enemy that seems to be too much for me as of yet.
Yes, there are many of this guy in this section

I can quickly go through two floors on this path, because the one area available to me is seemingly locked off for now. I should note that the two paths don't lead to the same level, they're different ones, clearly I'm supposed to escape through one. This area has four groups of two ghouls and another German soldier. He doesn't tell me much, just that there were 18 Germans in the expedition and that I can use the knife to take out the ghouls. One thing I'm finding annoying is that lone stragglers tend to be just as dangerous as groups I'm prepared for, simply because I rarely expect them. Its been happening ever since I got the blue crystal again.

Its always a fun time waiting for these guys to approach

The next level I can actually explore is Welcome, Tasty Primate, which is clearly designed in some way to tick the player off. Two paths, ones which probably turn in on each other, which are traversed in a long hallway with short side corridors alternating blocks. It does, but not in an obvious way. There's a central area, as expected, but it isn't symmetrical. Made me think there was a secret at first, but no. The exit is on the left side...which leads back up. There's no treasure here. This doesn't mean there's no way down from here, because I saw a door I couldn't open, but it does mean the game is getting trickier.

Up-close goodness
Wrong Way, that is, the level I couldn't go through before, is essentially a series of corridors twisting around a central area. Many, many doors are visible, but none of them seem to be open. What's the path forward? Down again! To the same kind of path I just went down. It seems a flaw in this game is that every level has one trick, and its not going to deviate from that trick too much. Wrong Way has its circles (or squares) and Welcome, Tasty Primate has an alternating series of corridors.

That seems kind of low-grade for an elder god
There's another German down here, this time it seems his mind has been corrupted by the thing. Not sure if I'm supposed to know about the elder god/alien in universe or not, since that could be on a need to know basis. The first sign that something is happening beyond endless creatures. I even find the door back in, except I can't open it yet.

Even his attack seems unthreatening

But in a path I didn't take, and naturally closed off from the other path, contains a silver key. Guarded by a nightmare. That's what they're called. Its the least intimidating thing so far, which may make it very intimidating to fight. Like all enemies, it shoots a projectile, except this projectile causes the screen to fade into greyscale briefly. This is shaping up to be the first game to have proper hit effects, compared to the usual flashing of the screen one color.

Are we sure it isn't just water?
So what's in those rooms? Nightmares, but it is clever, since you're practically guaranteed to get hit by the first one you meet. Especially if you try to fight them in melee, they seem to explode and deal damage in that case. This nets me an orange crystal and a blue potion. The former is a red stunning magic, meaning no more worries about shades, period, and the latter heals me, useful if I can't or shouldn't rest. Not that the latter is much of a problem. Its still Sunday, albeit late Sunday. Assuming this game is around 30 levels long, and I'm gone through about 8 levels.
The difficulty's in a weird position, because I'm dying fairly frequently, but not advancing the time too much. Part of this is because I've replayed the opening section a couple of times, but even in the underground section it doesn't seem like my failures result in me wasting time. Another part is that this is the last Wolf-clone I had yet to play, so I've had some experience in this. For a Mac-exclusive gamer, this might be much harder. Outside of a few oddities, this is the first actual FPS for the system to my knowledge.

This Session: 2 hours 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hour 50 minutes